As the election draws ever closer once more come the exhortations to vote tactically to keep this party or that party out of power. The numerous articles telling us all how for many of us the seats are so safe it doesn’t matter how we vote, we can’t change anything. No doubt some of us will believe all this and then next time round the same voices will tell us once more our votes don’t count and how we must vote tactically for one of the big parties – pointing to how the election went last time.
“Look” they’ll say “the majorities were so huge last time, the only thing to do is vote for the same old parties we always tell you to support”
and maybe we’ll believe them again, never stopping to thing that if we stopped voting for the same parties because we’re told that’s our only choice to stop the “other lot” getting in then those majorities wouldn’t be so large and those seats wouldn’t be safe. No it won’t make an immediate difference and in many places we will get the same old faces, but we can get them on a shakier footing so maybe they’ll pay a bit more attention and if their majority doesn’t look so unassailable maybe next time their safe seat won’t be so safe and more people will ignore the voices telling them their vote doesn’t count and they must vote for Zor or Zam to make a difference?
There is of course another aspect to this desperate push to keep us voting for the same parties all the time, your vote is worth money to those parties. Not a lot of money I’ll grant you just 14p in fact. But all those 14p’s add up. There is you see this thing called “short money”. This is paid to all the opposition parties you just need either 2 MP’s or 1 MP and over 150,000 votes. I suspect it’s quite tricky to get an MP with less than 150,000 votes but that’s beside the point. For every party that manages to reach these thresholds they get £14k per MP and then £27.99 for every 200 votes cast for the party anywhere, plus travel expenses. It may not sound a huge amount, and for the main parties with big donors it may not be but it still adds up to tidy little sums. According to Wikpedia (not always the most reliable source but convenient), last time round this “short money” was worth £5,197,038.79 to Labour, £145,610.49 to the SNP, £129,249.39 to the DUP, £62,085.31 to Plaid Cymru, £51,325.79 to the Greens and £54,832.02 to the SDLP.
Votes really do pay, hardly surprising they don’t want to share the bounty with new parties.